BINDERY: Launch for Mia Ayumi Malhotra / Isako Isako

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 7:30pm

The Bindery hosts the launch party for Mia Ayumi Malhotra's debut collection of poems, Isako Isako. Joining Mia are Jennifer S. Cheng (Moon: Letters, Maps, Poems) and the experimental improv drummer Paul Sakai; she will be introduced by Lantern Review editor Iris A. Law. We hope to see you there!


Isako Isako follows a single family lineage spanning four generations of female Japanese Americans to explore the chilling historical legacies of cultural trauma -- internment, mass displacement, and rampant racism -- in the United States, and how it weaves together with current events.


Isako Isako was born from a series of conversations Malhotra had with her maternal grandmother who shared stories about her immigration to the US from Japan after WWII, stories about living in Japan during the war and the ensuing American occupation, and most of all, stories about her own mother (the author's great grandmother). Through the women in her family, Malhotra discovered her own history and connection to the past along with a legacy of pain, strength, and resiliency.



“The personal pronoun ‘I’ has brinks on all sides, over which you can fall and become anyone and no one. Isako Isako deeply explores these soaring and dangerous precipices of identity through the magnetic voice of a Japanese-American internment camp survivor who is both an individual and collective, a citizen and a prisoner, broken and healing. Mia Ayumi Malhotra has written a brilliant and searing debut.” – Maria Hummel, author of Still Lives and House and Fire 


Isako Isako is a powerful testament to poetry’s capacity for alchemizing history, memoir, and the lyric: the poems here intimately address the landscapes of war and the reverberations of violence through bodies and bloodlines. Malhotra’s visionary debut collection spans generations, countries, and loves, weaving the story of a mother survivor with reflections on the limits and reaches of memory.” – Brynn Saito, author of Power Made Us Swoon


“In these poems, haunted equally by historical events and the timelessness of human suffering, we find a stunning imagination at work on the sacred task of bodying forth, through an uncommon compassion, the stories that history might otherwise eclipse. . . . Malhotra’s poetry demonstrates what is still best in us, the counterpart to cruelty coming back in the surviving descendant’s intimacies and empathies, her innovations in language and, ultimately, love.” – Pimone Triplett, author of Supply Chain and Rumor



Mia Ayumi Malhotra is a Kundiman Fellow, and her poems have appeared in Greensboro Review, Drunken Boat, Best New Poets, and DISMANTLE: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop. She received her BA from Stanford and her MFA from the University of Washington and is a founding editor of Lantern Review. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two daughters. Find her online at



Jennifer S. Cheng received her BA from Brown University, MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa, and MFA in Poetry from San Francisco State University. She is the author of MOON: Letters, Maps, Poems, selected by Bhanu Kapil as winner of the Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize (May 2018), HOUSE A, selected by Claudia Rankine as winner of the Omnidawn Poetry Book Prize, and Invocation: An Essay (New Michigan Press), a chapbook in which fragments of text, photographs, found images, and white space influence one another to create meaning. A U.S. Fulbright scholar, Kundiman fellow, and Bread Loaf work-study scholar, she is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Harold Taylor Award, the Ann Fields Poetry Award, the Mid-American Review Fineline Prize, and multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her poetry and lyric essays appear in Tin House, AGNI, Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, The Normal School, DIAGRAM, The Volta, The Offing, Sonora Review, Seneca Review, Hong Kong 20/20 (a PEN HK anthology), and elsewhere. Having grown up in Texas, Hong Kong, and Connecticut, she currently lives in rapture of the coastal prairies of northern California.


Iris A. Law is a writer, educator, and editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. A Kundiman poetry fellow and Pushcart nominee, she holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Notre Dame. Her chapbook, Periodicity, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013. She is a founding editor of the literary journal Lantern Review.



Paul Sakai is the drummer for Pinbokeh, an experimental band based in Oakland. 




Please note: this event will be at The Bindery at 1727 Haight.


This is an all ages event. Doors and the bar open at 7pm. The event starts at 7:30pm.


RSVP appreciated but not required.


If you cannot attend the event but would like to request a signed copy of Isako Isako, and/or any of the authors' books, order below and put your request in the comments field.

Isako Isako By Mia Ayumi Malhotra Cover Image
ISBN: 9781938584947
Availability: Out of Stock - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Alice James Books - September 4th, 2018

Moon: Letters, Maps, Poems By Jennifer S. Cheng Cover Image
ISBN: 9781939460158
Availability: Hard to Find (or) Out of Stock Indefinitely
Published: Tarpaulin Sky Press - February 7th, 2018

House A By Jennifer S. Cheng Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632430236
Availability: Backordered
Published: Omnidawn - October 4th, 2016